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Engineers, developers, IT experts, and others whose careers are built on specific technical skills and expertise need to do more than just plant a flag there if they’re going to get maximum value out of LinkedIn. As of 2013, LinkedIn has over 238 million users in 200 countries around the globe. It’s also the 36th most visited site on the Web. That’s a lot of people vying for attention. Cutting through all the noise and getting the most of out LinkedIn may seem daunting, but it’s never been more worthwhile: Use these tips to build your network, improve your brand, and get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers.
This step is a must for every LinkedIn user. Before you start networking, you need to make sure your profile is complete. Note the Profile Strength meter on the right of your profile page. If it doesn’t say “All-Star,” you’re missing out on one of the best ways to get noticed. To get your profile to maximum completion, include a detailed account of your career history, including descriptions of your role, your responsibilities, and your best achievements. You should also include any technical information relevant to that role, including coding languages or technologies you used. You won’t get your profile to completion without a photo. Profiles without a photo are seven times less likely to be viewed by recruiters. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either — a basic head shot will do just fine.
LinkedIn allows you to include certifications, languages, awards, patents, and projects on your profile. This is a great place for technical professionals to show off the depth and breadth of their skills and knowledge. If, say, you’re a certified Windows engineer, be sure to include that information here. Equally important is the “Skills” section. This is a great way to advertise your extensive technical knowledge and gain skill-specific endorsements from your network.
Use your Summary section effectively by writing a compelling synopsis of your career, your professional interests, and your skills. Think of this as the lead paragraph in a news article. If it doesn’t grab the reader’s attention, they’re not likely to keep reading.
Connect with colleagues, past and present. But don’t stop there. Find professionals who work at the companies you’re interested in and politely ask them to connect. Be sure to include a note that you’d like to know more about their company, and ask if they’d be interested in corresponding with you about it. This is a great way to develop an inside track on available jobs that might be coming open.
There are over 3 million company pages on LinkedIn. Following a company allows you keep up with the news and updates, as well as job openings they’ve posted.
An interested recruiter is a valuable asset, even if you’re not looking for a new position right now. Search LinkedIn for recruiters who typically place professionals with your skill set. Most will advertise themselves as “Technical Recruiter.” Some will be more specific, focusing on engineering, programming, or another technical field. Most will gladly accept your invitation to connect.
This is another must-have for technical professionals. There are over 1.5 million groups on LinkedIn, and joining several is a great way to interact with your professional peers. Of course, the key word there is “interact” — to get the most out of groups, you have to participate.
Search through the groups until you find a few that suit your career. Once you join, you’re bound to find lively discussions relevant to your interests. Participating in these discussions is a great way to gain exposure, build your network, and — best of all — earn the attention of recruiters. Recruiters scour professional groups looking for knowledgeable, skilled professionals. Another way to get the most out of LinkedIn’s groups is to join alumni groups for the schools you went to. Many schools even have groups devoted to specific majors.
All in all, LinkedIn is a crucial resource for technical professionals. It may seem like an uphill climb, especially if you’re new to the site. But with a little effort, you’ll begin reaping the rewards in no time.